Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The four year old who killed two kittens teaches us a sad lesson

It’s unwise to jump to any conclusions from most of the cases reported by the media.

Having been in court, I can say that it’s all too easy for the media to influence deliberately (if the source has its own agenda), or unconsciously, merely by the style of its reporting.

But the most significant aspect is probably the deficiency in accurate information. Over the course of a week, those in court may have spent 24 hours intensively studying, analysing, and reviewing evidence. A media story will probably provide an article that can be read in a few minutes.

In the case mentioned in the headline, there is an obvious issue, that of a four-year-old killing not one, but two small animals, in this case kittens, but we don’t know if this could have been any other small animal, or even a baby.

What we do know is the shocking responses made to the report in the comments that follow this story.

Four-year-old referred to specialist unit after killing pair of kittens

Rather than most being concerned about the child, its background, upbringing, and parents, they are concerned about the State, or in particular, the Scottish Government interfering with the family.

Or complain that a four-year-old is too young to be referred.

Or too young to be considered responsible, or even be aware they were doing harm.

I’ve referred to past studies, restated in the article.

Experienced animal welfare officers said they were shocked at the young age of some of those referred to the education project, which aims to break the cycle of cruelty and harm towards animals and people.

The charity says there is evidence of a link between intentional animal cruelty and human violence.

The Scottish SPCA said both could be predicted by low empathy levels and conduct disorder, but early intervention could change behaviour.

Yet the commenters seem unable to hear what is being said.

They seem to think all will be well if nothing is done.

There’s a note in the comment about a past case some may remember.

The killers of James Bulger poured modelling paint into the toddler’s eyes, stoned him and clubbed him with half-bricks. They kicked and stamped on him, before battering him with a 22lb iron bar they found lying by the track. Then they left the toddler’s dead body on a railway line, to be sliced in two by a train.

I attended an OU psychology course where I met the deputy head of a unit which takes children referred by courts because of sociopathic behaviour. He was of the opinion that some children are just born bad. One of James Bulger’s killers has never shown the slightest remorse.

Yup, good idea – intervention is a terrible thing, and abuse of anyone’s right to do as they please. Maybe in their eyes, not mine.

I’m reminded of a phrase I find myself using a little too often these days.

I hear many people shout loudly about “MY RIGHTS”  but I seldom, if ever, hear those same people use the word ‘Responsibilities’.

I also wonder how many comments are genuine, and how many are merely sad trolls, the sort of people who have nothing better to do that disrupt serious discussion by crafting a contrary response just for ‘fun’.

On the other hand, if genuine, many of those disturbing responses illustrate why we now have so many problems in society.

I normally like to illustrate an article with a relevant pic, but you really wouldn’t like any of the ‘relevant pics’ I came up with for this one.

So, this time I’ll just end with a link to a site that shows how ‘normal’ (and I make no apology for using that oft-scorned word in this case) people react to kittens.


14/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Not a terrible crash – just a folding e-bike

This started out as a bit of light-hearted fun, a humourous post about a folding bike spotted at one of my local Lidl’s, but then became ‘interesting’.

This fairly standard, Chinese made, folding bike looks like a terrible accident when first seen folded, but cleverly turns into a handy adult carrier.

There just happened to be a standard bike behind, offering a comparison.

I was wondering why the owner bothered to fold it while just popping into the shop, but having tried the useless bike parking fixing offered by Tollcross’ Lidl, there’s no mystery. There’s a short row of ‘V’ loops, which a wheel can be shoved into and presumably secured by a locking loop or chain.

They’re a joke!

I tried one recently – utterly useless as it leaves the rest of the bike vulnerable. A thief only has to release the locked wheel and can leave it behind while departing with the rest of the bike.

To secure the bike, you need more chains and locks to secure the frame (and other wheel) to the one tied to the ‘V’. I almost ran out. Fortunately, I carry a few different types to cater for various options, but I did almost run out of… patience!

I also found that a bike in the ‘V’ sticks out into, and occupies half the width of, the footpath passing this ‘rack’.

Not trying that again, I’ll just have to carry on using anything nearby that suits.

Lidl EPlus City Folder

Lidl EPlus City Folder

Things got more interesting when I looked closer, and when I tried to find out more details about this offering online.

There doesn’t seem to be a maker’s web site, but I found this bike on sale on eBay for about £370 – 24 V with 20″ wheels, ‘Manufacturer refurbished’.

Interest continued to grow as there were no proper technical details given, but I noticed the bike on offer, although identical in appearance from it graphics, differed in its apparent system of electric drive.

Referring to retail item as the original, it looks as if the original bike has a conventional pedal/chain driven rear wheel with a few gears, and the electric drive assists this using a hub motor built into the front wheel.

As the front wheel is hidden in my pic, I’ve found an unfolded example.

First, note the front wheel – in the full size pic, wires and connectors can be seen leading to the hub motor.

Second, and more interesting – look at the rear wheel, then compare to the detail I’ve taken from my own pic taken at Lidl.

EPlus City Folder

EPlus City Folder

And rear detail as seen at Lidl.

City Folder DIY Rear Drive

City Folder DIY Rear Drive

I’m impressed!

I’ll hazard a guess and say that the front wheel hub motor failed, and a replacement is not readily available, or if it is, costs as much as the whole bike to have flown in (I found this out the hard way, when some electronic kit failed on me).

I don’t subscribe to the ‘Chinese rubbish’ theory (especially not today, as China is giving much of the rest of the world a wake-up call as it develops – helped by the Orange Moron of course, as it unravels many advances made in the US), but I did wonder the first time I zoomed into that rear motor, its perforated metal strip mounting, the wiring, the sticky tape, and the cable ties.

Then I realised what I was looking at.

I assume that friction drive works.

If I tried something like this, all that would happen would be that the motor would keep twisting out of its mounting, and never stayed in contact with the tyre.

I had a vintage dynamo powered lighting system that depended on a similar system driven by the rear wheel. It was fine while I had old-style rubber tyres mounted. Then I switched to modern synthetic tyres. Disaster! The tyre’s surface had insufficient friction to drive the dynamo against the load when in use. The friction wheel just slid over the tyre. Thank goodness I had already dumped it in favour of  LED lighting all round.

One point.

My OCD means I couldn’t sleep at night thinking of that open electric motor sitting in all the muck that gets thrown behind a bike, even when only ridden in dry weather, and getting water inside (esp those exposed windings, where it would never evaporate from in Scotland) would mean losing any sleep I might have had.

Time for a Blue Peter Moment. Even a washing-up liquid bottle cut to sit over it would help IMMENSELY!


Above, I mentioned the relatively useless bike rack at this Lidl.

Last time I was there, someone had been kind enough to ignore it completely, and do what I do – lock their bike FRAME to the fence around the trolley enclosure. A much more secure option, seen just behind the ‘V’ rack on the left, which only secures a wheel rim.

Great Lidl Bike Rack

Great Lidl Bike Rack

14/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The view from the park

Since I can no longer enjoy a wander into the Winter Gardens in Tollcross Park, I sometimes wander further around, and occasionally end up on top of a small hill which represents the top of the park.

I should go there more often, as it provides a reasonable panorama of some of the surrounding area – I say ‘some’ as the local trees restrict the view to the south and to the east, but some is better than none.

I’ve stitched together wider panoramic views in the past, but these don’t show a great deal of detail (unless you keep the large result), but this time was more interested in recognising building I could see, and how far away they were.

I grabbed a couple of pics, just to remind me of the view, not taken at max zoom, or intended to capture any distant details.

The three obvious features in this first view are the white flats to the front, Simpson Flats, the tall building behind is Glasgow College of Building and Printing (oops, sorry, habit, it’s now to be called ‘City of Glasgow College)’, and in the centre is the Livingstone Tower (where I definitely spent too much time playing Star Trek on early computers – talk about misspent youth!)

The college building is the furthest of interest here, at 4.3 km or 2.7 miles.

Distant Glasgow 1

Distant Glasgow 1

The only building I really recognise is the one left of centre, currently named Hilton Glasgow, at 5.6 km or 3.5 miles.

There’s also the tower of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s Glasgow Free Church, seen in the gap between the two tall building on the right.

Distant Glasgow 2

Distant Glasgow 2


The above pics suffered from the weather on the day, with an obvious haze detracting from the view in the distance.

I wondered if this could be quickly edited out. I’m sure a certain photo-editing package has this on a button, but I can’t afford that, so I have to work for my improvements.

The first pic was the easiest, and isolating the hazy section made it fairly easy to clean up without introducing any obvious distortions.

I’ve become quite good at this over the years, as I often suffer from condensation on my lenses during our lovely cold, wet, damp, autumn, winter, and spring days.

Pic 1 Cleaned

Pic 1 Cleaned

Although it doesn’t look much different, the second pic was more severely affected by the haze, as the subjects were further away.

While the detail could be improved, much of the colour had been filtered out by the longer path through the haze, so couldn’t really be raised from the background.

Pic 2 Cleaning Test

Pic 2 Cleaning Test

While the sign for the ‘FORGE RETAIL PARK’ is an easy read, and not much more than a mile away, the Hilton in the background was of more interest, and despite not being zoomed into, could just about be read in the original view, 3.5 miles distant.

While looking at this, I realised I was looking at a recently noticed ‘friend’ in the city centre – the tower of the Central Hotel with its door-like features near the top. Spot on the right of the enhanced area.

Pic 2 detail

Pic 2 detail

14/09/2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Today is Cream Filled Doughnut Day

14 September is Cream Filled Doughnut Day.

Interesting history notes came with this one.

The idea of a fried bread ring isn’t new, but the earliest version of what we call doughnuts seems to be found in New Amsterdam in the New World. (That’s another name for New York City). Settlers from Denmark brought a cake known by the unappetising name of “olykoek”, or “oil cake”.

A cookbook published in 1803 contained doughnuts, and it didn’t take long for this to become the treat we know today. The ring shape that we know now came into being when Hanson Gregory, working on a lime-trading ship, punched a hole in the traditionally dense doughnut. They were braided, or small round loaves at the time, which ended up with doughy centres and greasy outsides. He fried his new little loaf with a hole, and found the flavour and fluffy texture of the cooked dough were exactly what he was looking for.

H taught the trick to his mother, Elizabeth Gregory, and she made a savoury doughnut with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon rind, and  filled the centre with a mixture of hazelnuts or walnuts to replace the missing dough.

And that ultimately led to the creation of cream doughnuts by… somebody.

Although the story features ring doughnuts, I think most of the cream doughnuts I’ve come across have tended to be fingers, so that’s what’s in the chosen pic.

Cream Doughnut

Cream Doughnut


14/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: